Poor John’s Plumbing, LLC


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KCMO / Gladstone / Liberty, MO (816) 455 - 5420


KCKS / Bonner Springs / Johnson County (913) 422 - 7101


Do It Yourself Repair

Shutting off a valve

The first step in shutting any valve on or off is to identify the valve. The two valves you will likely encounter are multi-turn (globe and gate) valves and quarter-turn (ball valves).

A typical multi-turn valve will have a rounded style handle. It will turn right to stop supply and left to restore. These valves will often make several 360 degree rotations before shutting off its supply. Just continue turning to the right until the valve feels secure. Be careful not to over tighten and damage the valve. Some penetrating oil may also be necessary to use older valves.

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  • Shutting off a valve (Continued)
  • A typical ball valve has a strait handle that runs either parallel or perpendicular to the pipe it serves. If the handle is parallel, the supply is on. If it is perpendicular, the supply is off. This applies to both potable water supply and natural gas valves. In the case of gas valves, a wrench may be needed to utilize the valve.

  • Changing a standard flapper
  • Before changing your flapper, identify what type of flapper you need and have it on hand. If you are uncertain, you may remove the flapper take it to a local hardware store. Before removing the existing flapper the water supply to the toilet needs to be closed. The shutoff valve is usually located from a stub-out in the wall or floor. As you're facing the toilet, it should be on the left. After shutting off the water supply, press down on the toilet handle releasing all the water from the tank. Once the tank is drained, you can remove the flapper.

    A standard flapper will be located at the base of the fill tube. In most cases, the fill tube has two ears that thread into two eyelets on the flapper. First, disconnect the chain from the toilet handle. Usually, the chain has a clasp that hooks into an eyelet in the handle. Simply remove the clasp from the handle. Pull out and up on the flapper eyelets to lift it off the fill tube. Use this existing flapper to adjust the chain of the new flapper. Simply measure the old flapper to the new one and adjust accordingly.

    Finally, reverse these steps to place the new flapper in. Twist the eyelets of the flapper inward to slide onto the ears of the fill tube. Next, attach the chain to the handle. Turn the water supply back on and allow the tank to fill. Once this is accomplished, flush the toilet to test the new flapper. If the flapper won't stay open or shuts very quickly you may need to loosen the chain. Once a solid flush is established be sure to allow the toilet to set unused to ensure it is holding water. A great way to test this is to place food coloring in the tank around the flapper. If the food coloring bleeds into the bowl of the toilet, you have a leak. How long this takes would depend on the severity of the flapper leak, but a five to ten minute wait should suffice.

  • How to install toilet handle/adjust flapper chain
  • Remove the lid from the tank of your toilet. Disconnect the flapper chain from the handle. On the inside of the tank where the handle feeds through is a nut, usually plastic. To loosen, turn the nut clockwise. Usually to loosen a nut or bolt you turn counter-clockwise, but this is threaded opposite. Remove the nut and handle assembly. Thread the new handle through the hole in the porcelain tank. Feed the nut down the arm and to the threaded portion of the handle and turn to the left. Usually hand-tight with an additional quarter-turn with a wrench is tight enough. Re-attach the chain and test.

  • Removing a slip joint p-trap
  • For those times when you accidentally drop something down the drain, this is useful to know. Most trap assemblies under a sink are made with slip-joint couplings. This means they use compression to connect and seal. Be sure to place a bowl or small bucket underneath the trap before you begin. The trap is shaped like a “J” with a plastic nut on each end. Loosen the nut on the short part of the j first. Do this slowly as water will likely leak out. Once the water is drained, loosen the nut the rest of the way. Now, do the same with the nut at the top of the j. Once off, the trap should slide strait down and off of the tailpiece. Reverse these steps to reattach.

  • Changing an aerator
  • Changing a standard aerator is usually a strait-forward procedure. Much of the time, only a pair of pliers are needed. If the aerator has been on for some time, a bit of penetrating oil may also be needed. Simply apply the pliers to the aerator and turn it to the left (as if you were in the sink looking up at the aerator). Unscrew the aerator and discard (although you have the option of cleaning it and putting it back, depending upon condition). The new aerator will tighten to the right. Be sure to give is a quarter to half turn with the pliers after it is hand tight.

  • Solving a pack-nut leak
  • Not all leaky valves have to be replaced. In fact, many leaky valves can be repaired by tightening down the pack nut. On globe and gate valves, the pack nut keeps water from escaping around the stem. Assuming it doesn't need repacked, one can use an adjustable wrench and a pair of channel locks to stop the leak. With the channel locks, grasp onto the valve body to secure it in place. With the adjustable wrench, grasp around the pack nut. Turn the nut to the right. Usually a quarter to half a turn will do. Just be sure not to over tighten as you can break the valve. If the nut seems tight and still leaks, it may be time to call for reinforcements. Otherwise, this usually works on outside hose bibs and hydrants as well as valves.


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